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Classes Canceled After Calaveras Unified School District Teachers Go on Strike

CALAVERAS COUNTY -- Teachers with the nine schools in the Calaveras Unified School District were on strike Thursday, cancelling class for nearly 3,000 students.

The teachers union and the district have been negotiating since last year for a new contract.

The teachers say among the issues are low wages and classroom size.

And the teachers have asked for a 6.5 percent raise -- the district has countered with a 2 percent raise.

The district superintendent admits teachers in his district do you earn less money compared to the districts with similar enrollment and revenue, however, he says the Calaveras Unified School District just does not have the money to pay teachers what they are requesting.

"How much compensation can we give the staff, which they deserve increased compensation, without bankrupting the district?" said Superintendent Mark Campbell.

Another issue among teachers is classroom size -- the district says the ratio of students to teacher has not been what they wanted, however, Campbell says by next year it should be around 24:1 on average.

Thursday's strike comes after negotiations between both sides failed Wednesday night -- the district and the teachers are preparing to cancel classes districtwide again Friday unless agreement can be made sometime Thursday evening.

Frustration among the teachers and parents in the district has been what they feel is a lack of transparency on the district's part when it comes to their budget and reserve budget. They feel the money is there to give them the increased pay.

"The neutral party that the state had hired said that the district can afford what we're asking, so I don't think it's unreasonable," said math teacher Jaime Wilson.

The California Teachers Association President Eric Heins issued a statement Friday in support of the strike:

"All students, regardless of ZIP code, deserve a quality education taught by highly qualified teachers, and that is especially true for our rural students. Students who live in remote areas deserve excellent teachers. Along with the 325,000 educators from all communities in California, we proudly stand united with the courageous teachers of Calaveras. This fight is about providing students with class sizes that allow them to learn and thrive, safe schools, and the ability to attract and retain the best teachers for Calaveras students. We encourage Calaveras Unified School District Superintendent Mark Campbell to do his homework, like Calaveras teachers did, and realize CUSD can afford the Calaveras Unified Educators’ Association’s proposal that puts resources into the classroom where students have the opportunity to succeed. We urge the district to keep its promise to the students of Calaveras County and settle the contract with their teachers.”